What is Hidden on North Sentinel Island? A TRIBE FAR FROM TECHNOLOGY (NORTH SENTINEL TRIBE)
What is Hidden on North Sentinel Island? Would you believe me If I told you that a primitive and aggressive tribe which has been far behind the technology for 60.000 years, still exists today? And what if I told you that there was a man who has decided to visit their island, where it would take courage to even pass close by, alone? How do you think this murderous and aggressive tribe greeted this brave man? I’m going to tell you first about the North Sentinel tribe, and then about the fate of the American missionary John Allen Chau, who tried to go there alone for a purpose. If you are ready, let’s start…
When you think about how far technology came today you might think that there would be no communities that have not been contacted. But you are wrong. Because there are over 100 communities living in various parts of the world that have never been contacted, and they live without the effects of technology. But without a doubt, the most famous and the most dangerous of them is the Sentinel tribe, which lives on the North Sentinel Island.
This tribe, which lives on the North Sentinel Island, located above the Bay of Bengal in India, has isolated themselves from the outside world for more than 60.000 years and they are believed to be descendants of the first people who migrated from Africa. Observation planes who pass over the mysterious island showed us that these people are still using stone age tools. They talk a language that no one can understand. Since they have no idea of livestock and agriculture management they still provide themselves with hunting and gathering. Since they have not discovered how to make a fire yet they eat everything raw.
Because they are isolated we have no idea of their culture, beliefs and lifestyle. The only thing we know of them is their brutal approach to outsiders.
Doing a naked war dance angrily when approached, the tribe chased and killed curious people who tried to contact them with bows and spears.
But is this aggressiveness is in their nature? Or do they have a reason to be so?
Can we be more murderous and savage than these people?
I ask this question because we play a role in their aggressiveness. We killed 2 people from their families. But why?
In 17. and 18. centuries the British Empire were trying to colonise every place they went to, thinking that the world belonged to them. And they had developed an interesting system to conquer the territories of the isolated tribes.
First, they would kidnap some of the members and treat them very nicely and give them some gifts and then send them back to their tribe. The abductees then would tell their tribe about the British and announce them as a non-threat. After lowering their guards they would be occupied without being able to resist. British, who wanted to try this plan on Sentinels too, met with something they didn’t think…
It all began in 1880 when naval officer Maurice Portman made the first contact with the island. Portman saw a group of people shooting arrows towards them. After that, the island became an obsession for Portman, who was doing research on the island. He had to somehow get in touch with the island and secure their safety. He immediately set to work, and after managing to enter the island with a gang of Indian and English prisoners next to him, Portman and his gang, who were friendly to the tribe, somehow managed to gain the trust of the tribe. (You can see the photo he took with them here)
After leaving the island, Portman visited the island for the second time. And things escalated during the second visit. Portman and his team kidnapped 2 old and 4 children tribe members. But this time the situation did not develop as they had planned. The people they kidnapped began to get sick and die for some incomprehensible reason. Portman and his team realized that they would not be able to secure the tribe’s safety and left the surviving children on the island and fled. This incident ignited a great enmity by causing the Sentinel people to form a great hatred against the people in the outside world.
After the incident, Sentinelese natives always took a ruthless approach to outsiders. One day, despite the fact that it is forbidden, 2 people who went fishing around the island get drunk and decide to sleep on the boat, thinking that they would not be able to return. Unfortunately, at night, the waves dragged the boat to the island of North Sentinel. And the tribe, seeing this, came running from the forest and brutally slaughtered the 2 fishermen. The helicopter sent by the Indian government to retrieve the bodies of the fisherman was showered with arrows, and they had to return before they could retrieve the bodies.
In 1981 a large cargo ship with a crew of 50 people got stuck on a rock on the shore of Sentinel Island. Seeing a group doing a naked war dance with bows in their hand on the shore, the crew panicked. Fortunately, the crew was rescued by a helicopter, which responded to their help calls.
However, the ship was left to the Sentinel tribe. It was the first time they had such a thing. What were they going to do with this ship? According to estimates, this ship and its materials had moved them from the stone age to the iron age. For example, they could have made arrow tips from the iron they got from the ship. And they might have developed many offensive weapons like this. So it was more difficult than before to approach this tribe that jumped an era after the shipwreck. But there was one person with courage…
John Allen Chau. John, an American Evangelical missionary, was a devout Christian.
John, who was only 26 years old, was an adventurous young man. He was obsessed with this tribe, which lived abstractly from the outside world, and he had a very dangerous mission for himself.
He wanted there to be no place on earth that did not know the creator, that did not know about heaven and hell. He had almost fallen in love with this tribe, which he first saw in a textbook. He must contact this tribe and tell them about Jesus and convey to them his religion, Christianity. Knowing they have never met any religion before, he considered Sentinel island to be the last stronghold of the devil. But he also knew that this task was not an easy task at all. He had to do his homework. He didn’t want to experience the events that happened to people who had gone there before. So he worked on a plan for years. John, who had read Robinson Crusoe stories in his childhood, had two great passions in life. The first was adventure in nature and the second was Jesus.
And he started developing his plans. He quit his job and gave himself to this task. He had to educate himself good.
First, he attended national outdoor leadership courses and began educating himself. Since there was no info about the Sentinels language, he took some linguistics courses, thinking that it would help him communicate with them. He read books that he thought would prepare him for the island. These were some missionary biographies, linguistic books and books on cultural anthropology.
He received pieces of training as an emergency medical technician and kept fit by exercising every day. In order to be prepared for the worst he spent his 3 summers in a small cabin in the USA working as a guard and an emergency nurse. He then attended a training camp that had a fake village and fake locals in it. The people who ran this camp were a missionary group. John joined forces with the All Nations group, a group which sent Christian missionaries to 40 countries.
During the training, the locals were staging mock attacks with fake spears. And John was learning how to survive these attacks.
When the date came in the October of 2018, John flew to the closest city to North Sentinel Island after getting 13 vaccinations for himself and settled there. Knowing that the tribe’s immune system is weaker than ours, he had these vaccines so the tribe wouldn’t get sick from him. He felt an incredible love for these locals, he didn’t want any harm to come to them. He was vaccinated against all kinds of diseases and he underwent laser eye surgery, thinking that he would not be able to keep his lenses clean.
In order to not carry a germ to the island from the outside he quarantined himself in his house and didn’t contact anyone.
On November 14, 2014, John had set out alone to perhaps the most dangerous island in the world, never to return, as no one had ever dared before.
So how would John get to this island, which was forbidden by the Indian government to approach?
Of course, John had thought of that, too. He had bribed a fisherman with the 30,000 dollars he had saved in his lifetime to convince the man to go to the island by forbidden routes. When it got dark, they quietly made their way to the island. When they approached the shore, the fisherman refused to go further out of fear. From this point on, John would continue his path by jumping into a kayak. He was thinking about the trainings he received for about 8 years, and he was excited. He was about to arrive at the island he had dreamed of for years. He took off his clothes so as not to be perceived as a foreigner by the locals. Right when he came close to the shore some yellow-painted faces appeared among the trees. John yelled “My name is John, I love you all!” while inside the boat. A boy among the tribe shot an arrow at John. John had a Bible in his hand and the arrow hit the Bible. With the arrows that followed, John fell into the sea. And the locals confiscated his boat. He had to swim to the fisherman’s boat, which was 1.5 kilometres away. John, who had to spend the night on the ship, wrote “I’m scared.” in his diary. But the brawl he had mustn’t have scared him. He had no intention of giving up. The prayer he wrote to his diary was very emotional; “Lord, If I get killed by the locals. Please forgive them!”. After he spent the night on the boat John tried again in the morning. When he went there for the second time he was never heard from again. The returning fisherman was arrested and sent to prison. According to the fisherman’s statement, John was dragged by the locals with a rope tied around his feet.
This incident caused a huge national outcry, and all the news pages talked about John. Although his family wanted to bring his body, the authorities refused because they considered it dangerous, and the case was closed.
Along with the closed file, many mysteries and question marks about this island and the locals remained unanswered.
What is behind the dense trees that were seen in drone footages? What was hidden?
How did the people of the island know about the tsunami that hit the island after the big earthquake that took place in the Indian Ocean in 2004 in advance, so that they moved to the hillsides of the island to avoid drowning?
Of course, we will probably never know the true answers to these mysteries. No one will ever know these secrets other than the locals, or maybe except John if he is still alive…
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